Top Five World Cup Marketing Controversies

By Kelly Gerrish

With access to a global audience of more than 3.2 billion people, the World Cup is a marketer’s dream. But that dream can swiftly turn into more of a nightmare. Sponsor spats, ambush marketing and a dog named Sepp, this article looks at the most famous marketing mishaps and controversies from the greatest showpiece in world sport. If they don’t help pull you out of your football-related gloom, nothing will.

The World’s Most Marketable Footballer

By Kelly Gerrish and David Flynn

With the world’s gaze firmly on the World Cup, big brands can take advantage of a global audience of more than 3.2 billion people to drive sales. The most watched sporting event in the world provides an ideal platform to create a buzz for products using celebrity footballers to emotionally connect with viewers. These eight players are currently lighting up the world stage, but who is the most marketable?

Global sports marketing research experts Repucom has surveyed more than 6500 people in 13 international markets to find the most internationally recognised and influential footballer.


Unsurprisingly, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo tops the list as the most well-known and trend-setting footballer today. His commercial good looks make him an endorser’s dream – globally 83.9% of people recognise him and of those, 72% say they like him. His marketability is obvious – Real Madrid sold more than one million shirts with his name on in 2013. Deals with Samsung, Tag Heuer, Emporio Armani, Nike and Fly Emirates all add to his global power as an influential product ambassador. Portuguese success in Brazil will propel his potential way beyond even David Beckham.

The more humble Lionel Messi is known by 76% of people around the world. As well as global deals with adidas, Dolce & Gabbana and Pepsi, Messi also endorses a Japanese face wash and a Chinese messaging application, securing his value across all markets. This, combined with his charity work for UNICEF and likeability factor, ranks him in second place.

The only English entry is fifth-placed Wayne Rooney. Manchester United’s global appeal and large international fan base have helped Rooney’s personal profile with 55% of people globally knowing him. His engagement with fans on social media adds to his appeal and keeps his marketability high. His image might help to sell FIFA console games (he has appeared on the cover of the last six editions) but it’s unlikely you’d buy beauty products from him.

Four of the top eight play for defending champions Spain who suffered an embarrassingly early exit last week. For Gerard Piqué, Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta and Iker Casillas, defeat is a new experience. Their previous exploits for both club and country ensure global fame and popularity; it remains to be seen whether humiliation in Brazil will hit their appeal and marketability going forward.

You can check out the full list here.

Ultimate England XI

By Kelly Gerrish and David Flynn

England may not be the most successful footballing nation, but we have produced some memorable players throughout the years. Who wears the Three Lions in right on the line’s Ultimate England XI?


Gordon Banks – Goalkeeper – 73 caps, 0 goals
Banks is a World Cup winning goalkeeper but his career is defined by the greatest save of all time. His instinctive reaction to deny Pele a certain goal in the 1970 World Cup makes him our number one.

Jimmy Armfield – Right Back – 43 caps, 0 goals
One of England’s finest ever defenders, he made the right back position his own for seven years and captained the team at the 1962 World Cup. Widely considered to be the best right back in the world.

Bobby Moore – Centre Back – 108 caps, 2 goals
Considered by Pelé to be the greatest defender that he had ever played against, Moore was England’s finest captain who led his country to our proudest triumph.  He became a national icon as a result, epitomising what it meant to be English.

Terry Butcher – Centre Back – 77 caps, 3 goals
Who can forget the iconic image of him with blood pouring down his face and covering his shirt but still playing on?  The battle-bruised warrior footballer literally shedding blood, sweat and tears for his country. Modern day footballers should take note.

Stuart Pearce – Left Back – 78 caps, 5 goals
Known as Psycho for his unforgiving style of play, Pearce is probably best remembered for missing the decisive penalty in Italia 90. But his 100% commitment and never say die attitude secure his place in our ultimate team.

David Beckham – Right Midfield – 115 caps, 17 goals
Becks has come a long way since the dark days of his sending off against Argentina in 1998. His stand out performance and last-gasp free kick against Greece to send England to the 2002 World Cup epitomised the mental strength and leadership we came to expect from our number seven.

Bobby Charlton – Centre Midfield – 106 caps, 49 goals
England’s all time highest scorer, Charlton was an integral part of the 1966 World Cup winning team. He was known for being an honest player, always showing respect to his opponents. 44 years after his retirement, he remains one of England’s most capped players

Bryan Robson – Centre Midfield – 90 caps, 26 goals
Known as Captain Marvel with good reason. His courage and industry endeared him to management, team-mates and fans alike. He wins his place in our ultimate team because of his defence-splitting pass and unbeatable spirit.

Paul Gascoigne – Left Midfield – 57 caps, 10 goals
Gazza’s flawed genius should not take away from the player he was and what he could do with a ball. His goal against Scotland in Euro 1996 will be remembered as one of England’s best ever goals (just don’t mention the celebration.) Gazza is the archetypal English football hero.

Gary Lineker – Striker – 80 caps, 48 goals
If there is one English striker who knew how to find the back of the net in a World Cup, it was Lineker. He scored six goals at the 1986 World Cup to win the tournament’s Golden Boot before scoring another four at Italia 90. His international goals-to-games ratio remains one of the best for England.

Alan Shearer – Striker – 63 caps, 30 goals
Shearer really burst onto the international stage in Euro 1996, finishing the competition as the top scorer. He was the perfect all-round centre forward who could be relied upon to stay cool under pressure. The Premier League’s record goalscorer, Shearer captained England on 34 occasions.

Bobby Robson – Manager
Robson managed England for eight years, through two of the most memorable World Cup campaigns. The Hand of God, Gazza’s tears, losing to Germany in the semi-final in 1990, Robson steered the ship through some of England’s greatest moments in recent history.

Brands in Brazil

By Kelly Gerrish and David Flynn

With just days to go until the World Cup kicks off in Brazil, the world has gone football mad. Replica shirts are popping up left, right and centre with patriotic supporters wanting to show their colours. Many national team shirts display their country’s identity, steeped in history and tradition.

It would be easy to call the plain white England strip boring but it’s fundamentally English with its’ classic, retro look. England may be in prestigious company sharing their manufacturer Nike with host nation and favourites Brazil, but expect that to be where the similarities end. We may well crash out in the group stage, but at least we’ll look good doing it.

With World Cup fever about to sweep the globe, our new infographic shows each country’s shirt manufacturer. Which is your favourite? The iconic orange of the Netherlands or the blue and white stripes of Argentina? Italy’s trademark blue or the unique red and white chequerboard of Croatia?

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Dressing for the Future

By Kelly Gerrish

A new high-tech ‘mirror’ is set to become every woman’s best friend by letting you try on clothes virtually.

The virtual wardrobe uses a motion-capture camera to produce a realistic 3D image of a woman’s size and shape. The computer selects a range of clothes and accessories it believes will suit the shopper, who simply flicks their wrist to choose which outfits to ‘try on’ and instantly view. It can even show how the clothes cling to the body and hang from the shoulders. Customers can instantly share the images online to gauge friends’ opinions before buying.

Created by augmented reality firm Von Bismark, the device uses Microsoft’s motion sensing technology, Kinect 3D. It will be introduced at pop-up stores on the High Street this summer, and available to buy for home use by 2016.M

Microsoft believe it could revolutionise the UK High Street shopping experience. Certainly on the face of it, it seems to be every woman’s dream invention. Spending hours traipsing from shop to shop can be extremely time-consuming and stressful. I’m sure men would appreciate anything that cuts down the amount of time they have to wait for us outside changing rooms too!